Winter cocktail: Mulled wine
Mulled wine is a bit like winter’s version of sangria—infused with citrus and spices, but served hot instead of on ice. There are many variations, but all are based on a few central ingredients.
Mulled wine is inspired by Scandinavian glӧgg, which is wine heated, flavoured and sweetened to obtain a comforting hot drink redolent with the scent of sweet spices: cloves, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. The joy of preparing mulled wine at home is being able to adapt the recipe to your taste. In honour of National Mulled Wine Day on March 3, go ahead and ahead and add your personal touch: orange juice, a pinch of nutmeg, fresh ginger, citrus peel, vanilla or—why not?—even a dash of liqueur…
1 bottle (750 mL) red wine
2 oz. (60 mL) Monna & Filles blackcurrant liqueur (optional)
4 oz. (120 g) sugar (brown sugar, honey or maple syrup)
1 orange, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 slice of fresh ginger
In a pot, heat the wine and sugar on medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. When the mixture is about to come to a boil, lower the heat and add the cinnamon and other spices and the liqueur. Let the mixture infuse on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain using a fine sieve. Serve the drink hot in toddy glasses and decorate with an orange slice, a cinnamon stick and a star of anise.
Be careful: Although mulled wine is easy to prepare, it is important not to let the mixture boil. This will ensure the drink remains fresh-tasting and not too bitter.
Is your cellar packed full of great vintages just waiting to be uncorked? Don’t you dare! The last thing you want to do is sacrifice a good bottle of wine to make a cocktail! Follow the same principle as when making sangria and opt for a bottle of red you like, but that is inexpensive.
Choose a wine with the taste tag fruity and medium-bodied or aromatic and supple instead of a wine that is too tannic and full-bodied. The spices and fruit added to the recipe will make the primary aromas of the wine stand out, which is why it is important to choose grape varieties that blend well with those spices. Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache pair excellently with these kinds of aromatics.
Since I always have a bottle of Monna & Filles blackcurrant liqueur at home, I couldn’t resist adding a dash of this fruity, smooth cassis to my version of the recipe. You have to try it!
Are you a tea lover? Trade the classic spices used in the above recipe for a tablespoon of chai (a favourite of Monsieur T. – French only)! Flavoured with anise, pieces of cinnamon and ginger, black pepper, cloves, chicory root and cardamom, this popular black tea brings together all the ingredients for making a uniquely flavoured mulled wine, enhanced by the subtle aroma of tea.